Summertime is here when we pay our annual visit to the Gorey Agricultural Show, one of the oldest shows in the country founded over 160 years ago. This year’s event was held in Ashton, and we promised the younger fry that we would go there for the day, after having no show for the past two years.
We were delighted when we woke on Saturday and the weather was kind, so conditions were ideal for the great outdoors.
We collected the two grandchildren around 11.00 am and drove the short distance to the venue. We were bombarded by questions about what they might see but we fended off all enquiries telling them that they would be surprised.
When we drove through the entrance gate, we saw a huge field full of cars, with stewards marshalling the flow of traffic and getting them parked with great efficiency. The ten-euro entry fee for adults with children free and free parking thrown in was very reasonable.
Now it was time to start the great adventure with requests to see hens, ducks, horses, tractors and instant requests for hot dogs and ice cream. It was necessary to draw up a plan and we started off with the machinery section. We were fascinated by the steam engines, threshing machine, and antique cars. We loved the car sold for over three hundred pounds in 1912. It was in such pristine condition, and it is still living in Gorey, we believe.
Our boys had to climb up on every tractor and be pretend drivers for the day. We ambled along to more modern machinery having passed old gardening and farming implements including a lovely display of old wood cutting by Christy Doyle. We were all intrigued by his little model of two men sawing a branch of a tree right down the middle. Memories were made of this.
We ambled on along through the trade shows with many requests for refreshments which we put on hold until we saw the horse jumping.
We were very happy to find a bench to rest the limbs and have a wee thirst quencher which we brought in the boy’s water containers. Here we met a lovely husband and wife team who were showing their mare and two-month-old foal. She told us about their names and their history with a lovely link to The Tuatha Dé Danann in naming mother and foal.
Once we had finished here, we thanked them and went off in search of a loo. These were strategically placed around the grounds and were impeccably clean. While waiting in the queue we spoke to a judge who had finished her stint and she told us all about viewing horses, watching them trot etc. We were impressed.
Now the tummies were beginning to rumble, and it was time to go in search of some lunch. As we walked along, I noted, in the open boots, a proliferation of picnic baskets and flasks by the more seasoned attendees. There also seemed to be great comradery among the many participants which was nice to see. I noted the numbers of tweed jackets being worn by young and old particularly in the show horse rings.
Anyway, we trotted along until we picked up the scent of burgers and hotdogs pervading the air. Juniors wanted hot dogs, so hotdogs it had to be. We queued for quite a while in the first place we met, and it reminded me of these queues you see at music festivals when thousands of people get collectively hungry and must be fed instantly. We waited quite a while with no discernible lessening of the queue and moved on to another stand where there was a lesser queue. We quickly reached the top where we ordered the required nosh of hotdogs and chips. While queuing here we met the boy’s other granny and grandad. We had a great chat while dining together, much to the delight of juniors.
While dining on the bench we were entertained by country and western music and line dancing which was a real treat with a goodly crowd of dancers on the floor. Many of the participants were suitably attired in country and western mode with the odd Stetson showing up. It all added greatly to the relaxed atmosphere of the day.
Our two junior heroes got a wee cash enrichment from the grannies and now we had a new urgency to spend it before it burned a hole in their pockets. Junior wanted a balloon and so we searched and found a hammer balloon which he purchased and was very happy with himself hammering everything on his way. Senior wanted to hook a duck and he hooked one and picked a football for himself and so off we trotted again heading for the pet’s section which was attracting a steady flow of visitors all day.
I remember learning a poem called “Tír na nÓG” from my school days and this lovely pet section all enclosed in a nice marquee reminded me of it.
Tá cearca ann is ál sicín, some hens are there and a clutch of chickens too
Is lacha righin mhothaolach, A simple duck though fixed of mind etc
It had rabbits. ducks, geese, bantam hens, cockerels, hens and many more species which were any child or adult’s delight. I think we did three laps of this marquee meeting neighbours and friends along the way who were all enjoying themselves.
Next, we visited the home baking and craft tent. It was lovely to see the familiar faces of local people, after a two-year enforced absence due to Covid, displaying their best in home baking, which they were so proud of.
The children were more consumed by trays of creative junior baking, paintings, drawings and Lego craft and lots more while outside we viewed crafted walking sticks.
We had promised to spend extra time at the sheep judging. Our boys and ourselves were totally enthralled by the many breeds of sheep and the differing colours and texture of their woolly coats which they were able to touch. We sang Ba Baa Black sheep have you any wool, when we were in the black sheep section, and they were delighted to rub their fleecy coats.
The goats with their huge horns were a further cause of fascination for the many visitors to the section. Having viewed these and watching their wonder and awe grow we had to remind them of the dog show which sort of lessened the disappointment of leaving this section.
We viewed the cattle briefly as we passed by on our way to the canine competition. When we arrived here the ring was packed, and judging was in full swing. We waited for two categories and watched the rosettes and cups being presented. We promised that next year we would bring along our own pet and await her judgement.
We viewed several more trade and food stands but try as we did, we could not escape the huge, sweet stall and in the end, we conceded defeat and went to buy the final treat of their great day out. Happiness abounded but we had to ration the intake because of the risk of sugar highs.
We did not go on to the amusements as we had a couple of family events last week which had bouncy castles and slides and they told us that they were getting tired and wanted a rest.
We headed for the car and home. The chat was only mighty all the way home with tales of tractors, horses, sheep, hens and ducks and dogs and anything else they could think of.
Gorey show was once again a masterpiece in organisation with safety, friendship, courtesy, and enjoyment everywhere. It was sociable family and child friendly event, and the organisers can justifiably be proud of their endeavours in staging Gorey Agricultural Show on a lovely summer’s day in June 2022.
We will be back next year and meanwhile we will relive the memories of the day with some of the fantastic photos which we took on the day.
Thank you so much to all involved in organising this huge annual show. Míle buíochas
Mick O Callaghan 19/06/2022
Photos taken from The Gorey Agricultural Show Facebook Page